Smythe, Tigers in Must-Win Situation

Texas commitment Durham Smythe and his Belton Tigers enter Friday's game against Killeen Shoemaker in a must-win situation.

Win both remaining games, and the Tigers have a chance to slip into the final playoff spot, especially if Smythe receives help from fellow Texas commitments Naashon Hughes and Darius James (if he plays) on 11/9. That's when Copperas Cove takes on Harker Heights.

Just one game separates Cove (3-2 in district) and Belton (2-3), thanks to Belton's fourth-quarter comeback and 35-31 win when they played two weeks ago.

"It's big," Smythe said of the win at the time. "It's big in a couple ways. We've really had a big kind of rivalry with Cove over the last six years, and they've won six straight. So it's good to come out here and beat them."

The other way was that it set Belton back on the right track a bit after the Tigers lost a 50-44 shootout to Temple and a 7-0 upset to a Harker Heights team minus James. And while the comeback against Cove kept the Tigers alive, they fell again last week 45-39 to Killeen.

Still, it would be wise not to count Belton (5-3 overall) out. The Tigers have scored at least 35 points in six of their eight games, including the last four in a row. Smythe credited some of that with the Tigers' interesting red zone approach.

"[Our mentality] doesn't change a whole lot," Smythe said. "I think that's why we're different than a lot of teams. Obviously if we're inside the two or one, we're still going to pound the ball. But just inside the 10, not a lot of things change. We can still spread it out and a lot of teams aren't expecting that."

It helps to have a 6-foot-6 tight end available. And while Smythe has put together an outstanding year as a receiver, his biggest gains have come as a blocker.

"As we go along, we're putting in a lot of new things, some new motion and some new plays along with that," Smythe said. "I feel like that's just more experience."

And all of that experience will come in handy when Smythe enrolls at Texas. He said he's liked what he's seen from the way Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has integrated tight ends into the passing offense.

"I think they're starting to become really reliable targets," Smythe said. "And that's big. That's the No. 1 thing that a tight end has to be: a reliable target that can move the chains. All of them are starting to group up and become players who can fill that role.

"I knew coming in with talking to Coach Harsin that they're trying to implement that," Smythe said. "And it's really shown over the last few games."

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